Thursday, January 5th 2017

In an update posted on their website on December 15th 2016, Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs stated “my officials will be working on developing a new scheme such as licensing or registration, for ‘Mobile Animal Exhibits’ including circuses”.

This announcements follows the release of a Welsh Government commissioned report in July 2016, which concluded that animals in these environments are denied a “life worth living” and showed that all five freedoms (basic needs to be met for animals in captivity) were compromised in the the travelling entertainment environment.  It reviewed scientific and expert evidence from over 650 experts and 1400 scientific studies concluding that evidence would support a ban on animal welfare grounds.

Animal campaigners were hopeful that a Welsh ban on the use of wild animals in circuses was on the cards, which could lead the way for the rest of the UK to ban animal circuses too.

Campaigns Director Nicola O’Brien of Freedom for Animals stated

“We are disappointed that at this stage the Welsh Assembly has not issued a stronger statement regarding a ban on the use of animals in circuses. However we are pleased that action is being taken, there is still time and we will continue to work to encourage a full ban for animals.”

A public consultation period will be launched in early 2017 which will allow members of the public to share their thoughts and opinions on the proposed steps by the Government.

The Welsh Government still has the opportunity to lead the way by bringing in a full ban. This decision, alongside Scotland, could influence a positive outcome for the animals still used in circuses around the UK, an outcome we know the majority of the UK public want to see.

Interestingly, the potential new system in Wales will not just cover animals in circuses, but also in other forms of “mobile animal exhibits” such as mobile zoos which use a range of wild and domestic animals. Freedom for Animals’ research has shown there are over 180 businesses using over 3500 animals in this currently unregulated industry.

Nicola commented,

“Whilst we would call for a full ban on the use of animals in mobile zoos, we are really pleased that the Welsh Government is taking this form of animal exploitation seriously. At the moment there are no licences required for setting up a mobile zoo and no inspections to check on the animals’ welfare. What’s more, the animal welfare issue for animals in any kind of travelling entertainment are the same, whether that is in circuses or mobile zoos, so we are happy to see them being addressed together.”